The tax books of 1862 and 1863 are handwritten documents bound together in a single volume and kept at the
Greene County Archives & Records Center. The 1862 book has been transcribed here in order to make the
information more readily available. Furthermore frequent handling would damage the original copy, and a
transcribed version is easier to read.
Most of the columns are self-explanatory, but a few words may be useful regarding the subject of land. For instance there is a column labelled Rng which stands for Range and a column labelled Twp which stands for Township. The central USA is divided into areas roughly 6 miles by 6 miles called township-and-range, designated by pairs of numbers such as Twp 29 – Rng 22. The diagram shows how Greene County is divided.
Please note that in Greene County the range number always has a value between 20 and 24, and the township
number is always between 28 and 31. If either the range number or the township number is not within these
limits, then the parcel of land is not in Greene County. This was as true in 1862 as it is now.
There is also a column labelled Sect which stands for section. Each township and range contain 36 sections, and they are numbered starting in the northeast and proceeding in a back-and-forth pattern as shown on the map below.
Each section typically measures one mile by one mile, but the northern boundary of the northern row of
sections may be somewhat extended or reduced. Also the western boundary of the western column of sections
may be extended or reduced.
The columns in the original tax book and in this transcription give the section number first, then the township, then the range. When the tax book was actually filled out, the scribe sometimes put the numbers in a different order. For an example see the beginning of the list. The fourth name is Jas. E. Abernathy. He has three pieces of land which appear to be in section 30 and township 22 with two parcels in range 1 and one parcel in range 12. These township and range numbers fall way outside the limits of Greene County and should not be accepted at face value. But now assume that the order is township first, then range, then section. This would put all three parcels near Ebenezer which makes perfect sense. This transcription lists the numbers in whatever order they appear in the original book. Correcting the mistakes of the original is beyond the scope of this work.
The column labelled Land Numbers may be the most confusing. The sections are usually divided into quarters, and these are further divided into quarters, so that the basic unit of land ownership is a quarter of a quarter of a section which amounts to 40 acres. If a piece of land is less than the usual size, it is labelled pt for part or frl for fractional.
Another example may help clarify this. Amanda Aaron is the second name on the list. Her first row of land numbers are NW SW, SW SW Sect 20 Twp 30 Rng 24. This means she owns the northwest quarter of the southwest quarter and also the southwest quarter of the southwest quarter of section 20 in township 30 and range 24. This amounts to an 80-acre plot a short distance west of Ash Grove. Her second row reads NE SE Sect 20 Twp 30 Rng 24. This means she also owns the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter of section 20 township 30 range 24. This parcel contains 40 acres and is not far from the first one. The assessed value of all her land is $240. Then for some unknown reason all her information is listed again which makes it look more complicated than it really is. The second time around, each 40-acre unit of land gets a separate line, but the numbers come out the same.
One other column to note is labelled Poll. This refers to the poll tax which was charged to white men of a certain age for the right to vote. Nonvoters (which included all women and all non-white men) were not charged, and voters over a certain age were not charged. Volunteers in the army were also sometimes exempted from the poll tax.
This transcription was made by Carolyn Snider who has made many other transcriptions of handwritten county records.